World Cup 2018: Vladimir Putin’s Russian authorities may use cyber attack on journalists | World | News

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The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), an international not-for-profit organisation dedicated to defending freedom of the press, has released a safety alert to all reporters in Russia covering the games.

They warn journalists should be prepared for their hotels to be bugged and computers and phones to be targeted by hackers.

CPJ’s Emergencies Director, María Salazar-Ferro, told Express.co.uk: “Digital safety is the main concern for any journalist traveling to Russia to cover the World Cup.

“All reporters should assume that they are being monitored by local authorities, though those traveling from countries or working with outlets that have been critical of Russia are more likely to be under surveillance.”

While FIFA rules make it difficult for Vladimir Putin to block any individual journalist or specific media outlets from visiting the country to report on the games, the CPJ believe there is a risk of harassment and even a major data theft.

Advise issued to journalists reads: “Do not connect your devices to unknown computers and do not use phone chargers offered to you by others.

“It is common for hotel rooms and public areas to be bugged for sound and/or video; bear this in mind when in conversation or using a laptop.

“Avoid logging into personal accounts or any accounts that are not relevant for your work when in Russia.”

The organisation even warns security may be at risk in official media centres at stadiums hosting games in the tournament.

It said: “Public Wi-Fi spots, including in your hotel room and at media centres, are highly likely to be compromised. Use a mobile hotspot when possible.”

Ms Salazar-Ferro added: “Journalists should take the necessary precautions to secure their information and equipment appropriately by checking their online profiles, reviewing the security of their email and social media accounts, and ideally traveling with clean devices.”

Russia has a track record of restricting the freedom of journalists who they do not believe paint the Kremlin in a positive light.

Just last month Ukraine took part in an elaborate scheme to protect a journalist, which included faking the assassination of the Putin critic, because they believed he was at risk of being murdered by Russian authorities.

The World Cup gets started in Russia this evening with the opening game between the host nation and Saudi Arabia.

The concerns for the treatment of foreign journalists comes amid wider fears about the treatment of foreign nationals travelling to Russia.

There are worries England fans could be targeted due to increased tensions between London and Moscow following the assassination attempt on the ex-Kremlin spy, Sergei Skripal, in Salisbury.

In advice to England fans travelling to support Gareth Southgate’s team in the competition, the Foreign Office website states: “Due to heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia, you should be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment at this time.

“If you’re currently in Russia or due to travel in the coming weeks, you’re advised to remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publicly on political developments.

“While the British Embassy in Moscow is not aware of any increased difficulties for British people travelling in Russia at this time, you should follow the security and political situation closely and keep up to date with this travel advice.”



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